Former sprinters James Wren Gilkes and Gordon Lewis among other United States-based
former athletes yesterday committed to supporting young athletes in Guyana, when the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) held a press conference.
The forum was more or less to reflect on the contributions of Gilkes to the sport in the ‘70s and to commit support to the sport in Guyana from an overseas-based group, which held a meet at the Leonora Track and Field Centre two weeks ago.
GOA presented Gilkes with a plaque for his outstanding contributions to track and field. Gilkes won a gold medal in the 200m in the 1975 Pan American Games and silver in the 1979 Pan Am Games in the same event.
At the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton he finished fourth in the 100m final, then took the silver medal in the 200m, finishing behind Allan Wells of Scotland. Gilkes is still recognised as Guyana’s most outstanding international male athlete.
“I had beaten Don Quarrie from Jamaica and Hasely Crawford from Trinidad”, Gilkes said after reflecting on being unable to compete in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada that Guyana boycotted in support of the ‘African boycott’.
He believes he was one of the fastest in the world at the time and would have won a medal for the country had he been able to participate in those games. He said he had times of 10.02 seconds and 19.90s over the 100m and 200m distances.
“Over the years, I had brought a few athletes from Guyana to the US”, he informed, singling out Jenifer Innis.
GOA President, K. A Juman Yassin said that Rudolph Harper, his predecessor, went to his grave believing that Gilkes would have been Guyana’s first Olympic gold medalist, “but unfortunately Guyana boycotted”.
“I want to, on behalf of the GOA, let you know how happy we are to have him in Guyana. We were talking about cooperation between him and others in the Diaspora. I’m hoping that he and others could bring a little bit more”, Yassin added.
Lewis said that their “purpose” in Guyana is to encourage young athletes in Guyana. He said that they want to actually give athletes an opportunity to do well via the encouragement and financial support that is necessary.
AAG President, Aubrey Hutson also spoke of how well Gilkes can help athletes in Guyana with various facets of sprinting. He said that he is hoping that the overseas-based group can organise a session for Coaches here in the near future.
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